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Wednesday, 16 October 1996
Page: 4248

Senator HILL (Leader of the Government in the Senate)(12.40 p.m.) —Mr Acting Deputy President, I simply want to seek leave to have incorporated a few comments on behalf of the government in relation to a motion that was passed earlier this day, which was a motion moved by Senator Brown congratulating Bishop Belo and Mr Jose Ramos Horta on their Nobel prize. Unfortunately, Senator Brown has, as a result of that resolution, sought to misrepresent the government's position on East Timor. I think it is important that the government's position, although it is well known by all, is nevertheless restated on the record.

Leave granted.

The statement read as follows—

The Foreign Minister offered congratulations to the Nobel Laureates upon hearing of the award's conferment

.   the Government shares with the Laureates a commitment to a peaceful East Timor

We hope this award will stimulate the parties concerned to make further efforts to resolve outstanding differences.

For its part, the Australian Government will continue to support efforts to reach a just and internationally acceptable solution of the East Timor issue

Successive Australian Governments have recognised Indonesia's sovereignty over East Timor since 1979.

There has been no change to the Government's policy on East Timor including the East Timorese right of self-determination. From the outset, in 1975/6 Australia made it clear that it did not approve of the way in which Indonesia incorporated East Timor into Indonesia, but we do acknowledge that any form of self-determination will need the cooperation of the Indonesian Government

.   how that might be exercised is a matter for the UN, working with the parties concerned

This Government believes—as has its predecessors over the last 17 years

.   that the best means of bringing about positive change in East Timor and encouraging peace is by recognising the reality of Indonesian sovereignty

   .   that in no way indicates approval of the way Indonesia incorporated East Timor into Indonesia

   .   nor does it derogate from the Government's recognition of the valiant efforts of Timorese who fought alongside Australian soldiers during World War II.

The Government's policy towards the East Timor issue includes acknowledgment of the continuing right of the East Timorese to self-determination

The Government believes that there are several aspects of the currently unsatisfactory situation in the territory which clearly need to be addressed by the Indonesian Government

   .   including a significant reduction in the size of the military presence; enhanced religious tolerance and administrative arrangements which accord more influence and autonomy to indigenous East Timorese.

The Government has emphasised to the Indonesian Government that East Timor is an issue of concern to Australia and made clear that the Coalition Government would take a constructive, results-oriented approach to the issue.

   .   the Government will continue to support efforts to reach a just and internationally acceptable solution of the East Timor issue

The Government welcomes the publication on 12 October of the final report of the Indonesian National Human Rights Commission (KOMNAS HAM) on the 27 July takeover of the headquarters of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) and the subsequent rioting in Jakarta

The Commission's report gives a considered and carefully weighted assessment of the background to the 27 July events, comments frankly on its causes and details breaches of several basic human rights that occurred in the disturbances.

The Commission's Report includes sensible recommendations concerning follow up action in a number of areas; in particular it calls for

   .   accounting for the whereabouts and well-being of the 23 missing; explaining the five deaths and charging those responsible; assistance to those who lost property or business and asking that any arrests, detentions and interrogation be carried out in full conformity with the law.

It is of course a matter for the Indonesian Government to take follow up action on the Commission's Report

   .   the Australian Government urges the appropriate authorities in Indonesia to take the Commission's findings fully into account and pursue outstanding issues identified in the Report.